Hey there people I’m back again with yet another manga review on my plate. This time it’s the ever famous Afro Samurai by Takashi Okazaki. Yet another seinen manga. I know what you guys must be thinking “this site is turning more and more into a seinen manga review site instead of a manga review site with the recent streak of seinen manga reviews, but what can I say guys I just have a obsession with seinen manga but I promise you this that more other genre manga reviews are underway. I just wanted to cover these mangas which have caught my interest. So, on with the review for today:
Afro Samurai as most of you already know is a highly publicized and highly hyped franchise which has an anime, manga, game and movie in it’s name and most of you must have already come upon it in one way or another. I haven’t played the game but I can say that all the versions of Afro Samurai excluding the manga are nowhere close to the perfectness of the book. Well, I’ve given away much already without even a introduction on what the manga is all about, maybe I just got a bit caught up with rhythm after saying that most of must’ve already came across it but I didn’t take into consideration the small amount of people who might not have come across it in any way yet. Alright time for a typical introduction:
What’s the manga about?
Now, why did I say manga only? Well, because all the other versions of Afro Samurai twist and turn the story in one way or another so it’s a bit different from the original two volume manga. So, here’s what mangatraders has to say about Afro Samurai “set in a “futuristic, yet feudal Japan,” and stars a samurai named Afro for his hair. The story follows Afro as he tries to avenge his father‘s murder. In the world of Afro Samurai, it is said that the one who becomes “Number One”, will rule the world, wielding powers akin to a god. Someone becomes Number One by killing the previous Number One and taking his ceremonial headband. However, the only rule in this world is that only the “Number Two” (also designated by a sacred headband) is allowed to fight the “Number One.” The downside of this is that anyone (and typically everyone) can challenge and try to kill the Number Two, to gain the right to move forward and challenge Number One. Afro Samurai’s father was the old Number One, until he was challenged by a gunman, “Justice” (who was then Number Two), who fought him in a duel to become the new Number One. At the time the gunman challenged his father, Afro had only been a child. The gunman severed his father’s head right in front of the young Afro. Now an adult, Afro Samurai is the current Number Two and a master swordsman; he travels the road seeking revenge on Justice, the current Number One. Lengthy flashbacks interspersed throughout the story detail how Afro rose from frightened boy fleeing the death of his father, to master swordsman, and eventually to become the current “Number Two”, while the story in the present deals with the adult Afro making his way to the mountain top keep of the “Number One” to duel Justice, while at the same time the mysterious cult known as the “Empty Seven Clan” sends various agents to kill Afro and take his Number Two headband” which is quite self explanatory and detailed as to what Afro Samurai is all about (for a change) but as you read through the story and come nearer to the climax you’ll understand what the manga is trying to convey. The message which I got from the book (and I think that’s what it’s trying to convey) is: That no matter which form it is, revenge is always futile and will take away more from you, your loved ones and others than you could ever find back. I know that the setting of the manga is a bit over the top for a seinen manga which tries to portray as much reality as possible but I think that without that setting the book wouldn’t be what it is. I mean that the cell phones, modern day city and every kind of technology shown in the manga is important in the plot of the manga.
The book itself is very nice. The translation notes included in the back that not only supply you with cultural notes, but also give you the original Japanese for any slang that is used and the reason for the translation, and this is the only book I’ve ever seen that romanized and translated the entire Buddhist heart sutra. I was pretty impressed by that.
Where does the art stand?
I think it’s one of the best art styles I’ve ever witnessed. The detailing is awesome, character designs portray the character in quite a specfic manner and I can definitely say one thing about the art is that it definitely knows how to show blood. I mean, the red colored blood splattering all over the panels when someone’s hand, leg, waist, head or any other part get’s cut off is really something to look at. The beautiful way the blood garnishes the fight scenes is really good. Other good things about the art is that it’s hard and dark sketches really portray the right kind of atmosphere for the manga. If someone reads mangas for its art than this one is definitely for them.
Of to the conclusion
So, all of you must’ve pretty much guessed what my overall conclusion would be like after all that praise for this manga. Obviously, it’s a must get for all those manga fans out there who just want to get their hands on some good manga to read. However, the plot is not so deep as other books I’ve read before but the simplicity of the manga and the simplicity of the main character’s reason to kill is what makes this manga so interesting to read and the author might not have been able to convey the message of “revenge being futile” to the readers if the book had been any more complex than this. So, one last sentence to say before I sign off for today. Go ahead and get this manga, it’s worth the read if you’ve already wasted your time on the other versions like the anime or the movie which are nothing in comparison to the manga.